Whether you love the ‘beautiful game’ or hate it, it’s unlikely you’ll have escaped the media hype around the football World Cup which has been taking place in Brazil over the last month. On Sunday 13th July, at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the competition reaches its conclusion as two teams step out onto the pitch to compete for the most prestigious prize in football.
Hosting the competition for the second time in its 20 year history, the 2014 World Cup has been an opportunity for Brazil to show a TV audience of millions, what a stunning and diverse country it is – and to welcome around 600,000 foreign tourists who have made the journey to Brazil in person. But playing host to an event on the scale of the World Cup can be something of a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it has the potential to galvanise a nation and stimulate the economy, but there’s always the possibility it can turn into a hugely expensive white elephant.
As one of the emerging BRIC economies, Brazil is a country of contrasting fortunes, where poverty and wealth are never very far away from one another – a fact neatly encapsulated by images of Rio’s shabby favelas, clinging precariously to the hills above spotless white beaches. Brazil is Latin America’s biggest economy and the seventh largest in the world, but recently it has suffered from high inflation and sluggish growth. President Dilma Rousseff promised that the World Cup would spur growth, but there have been protests from Brazilians angry over the expense of the event, and the lack of trickle-down growth. Of course, it will only be well after the final whistle has blown that it will be possible to fully evaluate the impact of the World Cup on Brazil’s economy.
Brazil in a nutshell!
- Brazilian culture
Few cultures deserve the term ‘melting pot’ as much as Brazil. Centuries of European domination and the slave trade, have seen an influx of many nationalities settling and intermarrying, resulting in one of the world’s most diverse and culturally complex countries. Over half the population of 190 million are white, around 40% are mixed black and white and less than 10% are black. Portugal’s influence still dominates; 80% of the population are Catholic, and the official language is Portuguese.
- Meeting etiquette
- For business meetings, Brazilians will usually dress in conservative European style, but in tropical areas of the country where temperatures can reach 40º, smart casual may be acceptable, so check with your host first.
- For Europeans, Brazilian punctuality can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s not a sign of rudeness or laziness. Traffic in the cities can be very congested, so allow plenty of time to get to meetings.
- Meetings can be long. They will often involve small talk before the business discussion gets underway.
- Business cards are exchanged at the beginning of a meeting, but if you are meeting at a restaurant, it’s polite to wait until the end of your meal.
- Business negotiations
- Business in Brazil is hierarchical and key decisions will need to be made by the most senior person.
- Developing strong personal relationships is important. Brazilians like to negotiate with people rather than businesses.
- Brazilians prefer not to depend on a single supplier, so an exclusive contract is unusual.
- It’s not unusual for a business deal to take many months to negotiate.
- Body language
- Avoid using the ‘OK’ hand sign – this is an offensive gesture in Brazil.
- The Brazilian concept of personal space is different to that in many European cultures. And conversations are often held at close quarters.
- Touching arms and elbows is common, as is backslapping between men.
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